I need to preface this section by acknowledging that there plenty of resources that explain the formal editing process depending on your platform (book, newspaper, magazine, etc.). This section is intentionally informal. I’m going to discuss with you the three rounds of editing that I take when I complete the first draft of any one of my books. These phases are debatable and it is very possible that you could find many other successful self-published authors that take a different approach. To each is own, however, I’m going to share with you what has worked for me in the most affordable yet professional way possible.
Phase 1 – Flow, Tone, and Structure. During this phase it is important to have this reviewed done by an editor that does not know you personally. To clarify, most of your readers will not know you personally, therefore it is important that the person who is assigned the task of interpreting the tonality of your words is somebody who can’t hear your voice as he/she reads it. Despite this, it is helpful to have a consistent editor who understands the tone you strive to maintain throughout your work. In other words, avoid having a friend or family member handle this portion of your work but once you find a strong editor during this phase try to keep him/her for you future books.
The goal of Phase 1 is to make sure that your book is written in a sequence that makes sense for your reader. For example, this book could begin with the creation of the KDP account, however, as the author of this book I believe that if you approach this section too early it can actually become overwhelming and cause people to quite. Therefore, the sequence of topics and the transition from one to the next play a crucial role in the overall effectiveness of your book.
This phase also covers any sentence or paragraph that doesn’t sound quite right and could possibly take the reader in an unintended direction. Lastly, this phase should help assess and firm up the overall voice and appearance of the book. In other words, do you as the author want the book to sound like a friend might be sharing this information or maybe a lecturer? Whether it is one of those two or a completely different tone it is important to appreciate the difference the tone can make on the reader and therefore the significance of keeping the tone consistent throughout the entire book. As far as appearance, you want to make sure that section separations or bulleted lists for example are done in an organized and consistent way.
Phase 2 – Word Choice, Redundancy, Transitions, and Grammar. Now that you have the tone and sequence figured out from Phase 1, you’re ready to have your word choice looked at a bit more closely. The first draft of a book can take a long time to write. It is very difficult to determine if you’ve used certain language redundantly and transitioned from one section to the other effectively and efficiently.
This phase should also cover anything else that the first editor may have missed in regards to a phrase, sentence, or paragraph that might be sending mixed or confusing messages. In addition, the Phase 2 editor should be looking out for grammatical issues.
Phase 3 – Grammar. The final editing phase that makes the book go from unprofessional to professional. Up to this point your first editor may have made some grammatical changes and your second editor definitely should have made a significant amount of grammatical repairs. The editor during the third phase should be going through your book with a magnifying glass and making sure that all grammar concerns are repaired.
A couple of points that should be noted before discussing strategies to find effective editors. First, inform the editor during phase one that any grammatical errors noticed should be corrected, however, he/she does not need to seek them out. Second, be sure to make it clear to all editors that you want them to make the necessary repairs. What you want to avoid is receiving a document with highlighted unprepared errors. Third, if possible you should be reading through the revised version in between each phase, however, if you find yourself stalling to move from one phase to the next because you haven’t had time to sit down and read it yourself then just send the revised version the the editor within the upcoming phase. Fourth, if you can afford it or you know somebody who is willing to help you out, have two editors complete the third phase. Start with one editor and relay the revised version to a second editor with the same goals. Fifth, read the book out loud after the third phase before publishing. Make changes as you go.
Sixth and finally, no matter how many editors and phases you go through you will be nervous when it comes time to publish. You’ll likely feel like it isn’t high quality. Remember, the beauty of eBooks is the ability to easily upload revised versions, so even an error falls through the editing cracks you can still make the necessary repairs. The point is, avoid sitting on an unpublished book.
Do what you need to go and get the book published!